OzHarvest

OzHarvest's Pasquale Maglione, left, and Allen Gnesin.

EVERY Friday afternoon a yellow truck collects Allen Gnesin's leftovers. Mashed potatoes, chicken pies, lasagnes, roast beef and vegetables are delivered to hungry men, women and children throughout Sydney.

''I feel a little better that I'm not just throwing out good food,'' said Mr Gnesin, who donates to OzHarvest, a food rescue charity.

Mr Gnesin's leftovers are modest - he runs a small carvery in a North Sydney shopping centre - but a government-backed campaign that will be launched tomorrow asks small businesses like Mr Gnesin's to save ''every bit'' of unsold food they would normally throw away.

Sydney businesses are dumping 225,000 tonnes of ''pre-consumer'' food or roughly 450 million potential meals into landfill every year, according to NSW government figures.

''No matter how efficiently you run your business, you will always end up with some kind of food waste, much of which is edible,'' said Jon Dee, the founder of Do Something!, the lobby group behind the campaign.

Tomorrow, Mr Dee and the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, will launch the ''food donation tool kit'' - a guide that tells businesses how and where to donate their leftovers. It introduces NSW's three food rescuers - Foodbank, OzHarvest and SecondBite.

Mr Dee says the most common reason why businesses bin food rather than donate is that they fear legal retribution due to health risks. Strict laws used to prevent businesses from donating food to charities, but a 2005 amendment to the Food Donations Act protects donors provided the food is given ''in good faith'' and is safe to eat when handed over.

A number of small cafes and restaurants told the Herald that the reason they do not donate food is because they have nothing left over. Many said they would be out of business if they repeatedly wasted food.